August’s Birthstone

Peridot

Though peridot is widely recognized by its brilliant lime green glow, the origin of this gem’s name is unclear. Most scholars agree that the word “peridot” is derived from the Arabic faridat which means “gem,” but some believe it’s rooted in the Greek word peridona, meaning “giving plenty.” Perhaps that’s why peridot is associated with prosperity and good fortune.

Peridot is the rare gem-quality variety of the common mineral olivine, which forms deep inside the earth’s mantle and is brought to the surface by volcanoes. In Hawaii, peridot symbolizes the tears of Pele, the volcano goddess of fire who controls the flow of lava. Rarely, peridot is also found inside meteorites.

Peridot’s signature green color comes from the composition of the mineral itself—rather than from trace impurities, as with many gems. That’s why this is one of few stones that only comes in one color, though shades may vary from yellowish-green to olive to brownish-green, depending how much iron is present.

Most of the world’s peridot supply comes from the San Carlos Reservation in Arizona. Other sources are China, Myanmar, Pakistan and Africa. Peridot only measures 6.5 to 7 on the Mohs scale, so while the raw crystal is prone to cracking during cutting, the finished gemstones are fairly robust and easy to wear.    

 

Spinel

Spinel is a hard vitreous magnesium aluminum oxide that has been used as a gemstone for centuries. The beauty of spinel has caused it to be mistaken for ruby and sapphire in the past. However, spinel deserves to be recognized as a gemstone that is worthy of appreciation in its own right. Spinel occurs in a range of colors, such as rose pink to rich red; lavender to deep violet; light to deep blue, orange, yellow, brown and black.

The name spinel is thought to have come from either the Latin word, “spina”, meaning thorn, due to its pointed crystal form, or the Greek word for “spark”, in reference to its bright color. Spinel has been mined for centuries and one of the most famous historical spinel gemstones is known as “the Black Prince’s Ruby”. As the name suggests, this is a red gemstone, which was thought to be a ruby. The “Black Prince’s Ruby” was acquired by Edward, Prince of Wales in 1367. It is set into England’s state crown and is held at the Tower of London.

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